Monday, September 03, 2007

Heads or Tails: School


I used to teach and live in the inner-city in southern New England. It was a wonderful experience and I am grateful that I had the privilege to teach the children there. The gangs and crime did not bother me. But the substance abuse of the kids, the parents without any skills and/or resources to parent in a city that did not care, and finally, the deaths of my students drove me out. Two of my students were murdered. It took me years to recover from the last murder because he had been in my homeroom for two years and was responding positively to the mathematics I provided. He was 14 years old when he died.

The first year I lived in Vermont, that student's best friend was murdered on Christmas Eve. I can't forget how they would mess around and tease each other and the staff like kids do all over the world. They both worked hard when they were able. They wanted to have families and live lives like the rest of the world.

The photo above is of a mural that the students in my school created in their new lounge. Children always express hope for a better world.

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19 comments:

  1. Teachers sure do face a whole new set of problems than they did years ago.

    I've seen movies of course about teachers like you who go into the inner city, but I've never heard first hand how it really was.

    I admire you for trying to make a difference.

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  2. Oh my gosh, I can't even imagine how difficult this was for you to deal with! I don't think I could have done it!

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  3. wow, how sad. I never though about the flip side of teachers having to face tragedy like that. It must be really difficult to let go of student you really made a connection with throughout the year too.

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  4. That's a shame. I went to school in a pretty rough neighborhood growing up and I had a few buddies pass away due to violent crimes. I never really thought about it from the teacher's POV though.

    I can only imagine how many teachers out there became the confidants for a lot of troubled kids. It's gotta be tough.

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  5. It's sad when some students lose their way in life and end up at the mercy of drug pushers and other bad elements in the society.

    I'm sorry to hear the loss of your students. I hope they are now at peace. I also hope that other students learned a valuable lesson through those sad events.

    Thanks for sharing the story and the significant mural created by the students.

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  6. I'm sorry you lost students while you were teaching. Our high school has lost 4 boys in 12 months. One had cancer(he played baseball with my oldest),one was being chased by police and went to fast on a curve and one kid was racing at high speed the last boy was driving home late at night and it was an accident, no alcohol or speed involved. Several of these deaths affected my 18 yo very hard.

    Our high school does a very poor job of dealing with the grieving students~no grief couselors, no teahcers on the lookout for changes in students behavior. It's a sad situation all around.

    Happy Tuesday to you. I adore your avatar!

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  7. I really admire you for continuing to make a difference and wanting to after that expeirence!!!
    I had some similar experiences and I still have not quite gotten over them and ended up changing careers because of it.

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  8. Its sad when people do such things, and such bad things happen to people. Teaching is a very good profession, glad to see people like you still in the sacred profession of teaching

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  9. I can imagine your distress...one minute you have them they are captivated by what you are teaching them..and the next they are gone.....school as we all know it is not all roses....it can be hard knocks.....

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  10. How sad but maybe one day to these kids that you did made a different in there life.
    I respect teachers they deal with my boys but my boys didn't grow up in this kind of environment.

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  11. The loss of a young life is too sad to bear whatever the circumstances...to hear of children murdered is beyond all comprehension. May the child in us all continue to hope for and work for a better world.
    Rx

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  12. Sometimes it's impossible to reach the masses but I'm sure you influenced most of your young students in some way shape or form & that has to make a difference, heart felt post x x

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  13. What a violent society you live in. I can't imagine living in a place where people carry guns. Terrible. Hope you get back into teaching though; kids need people who care.

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  14. How very very sad!
    One of my friends in school shot himself after the Abitur because rumors said his girlfriend had cheated on him...

    ***

    The religions taught are Protestant and Catholic - the main religions in Germany. Unbaptised children can choose if they like to attend or not. If not they´ll have a free period. Guess how many prefer a free period =)

    Later on all students (at the Gymnasium) can choose if they like to have religion-lessons on the class schedule or philosophy.

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  15. How sad & disturbing. That must have been awful for you!

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  16. Interesting and sad post. I went to university in New Haven (maybe I was there when you were in Hartford?) and I remember being shocked by the contrast between New Haven (the city - not my fortress of privilege in the middle of it), Hartford, and Bridgeport, and "the rest" of Connecticut: Greenwich, Fairfield, etc.

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  17. That must have been so hard to experience, but good for you for being a teacher there, I think teachers deserve more credit than they get :)

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  18. teachers like you are why some of those kids make it against all odds. Have a good school year.

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  19. I have such admiration for you! I could never teach the older students! What you had to go through that first year I'm sure was tough - I can't imagine!

    Thanks for visiting my site!!

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